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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

JVL: Trump, Iran, Gay Marriage Recriminations

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July 22, 2014
No. 181
By Jonathan V. Last

It's been another one of those weeks where it's hard_really hard_to figure out which is the most depressing story in the news. Is it:

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(A) The Iran deal in which the president of the United States is going to great lengths to subjugate the verdict of the U.S. Congress to the verdict of the United Nations? As Allahpundit explains, it's even worse than you think. Do you know whose elected body does to get vote up-or-down on the deal? Rhymes with "Iran":

The agreement acknowledges that Iran's parliament must ratify the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty authorizing nuke inspections within 90 days after the UN Security Council approves the deal. But it doesn't say anything about the U.S. Congress, which has the right under federal law signed by Obama himself to vote on this deal and block it if it can muster 67 votes of disapproval in the Senate. Which, of course, is by design: By cutting Congress out of the agreement and running to the UN, Obama has heaped even more pressure on congressional Democrats not to defy him on this by making them guilty of breaching international law if they do. He's crushed Congress at every turn _ first in refusing to submit this deal to the Senate as a treaty, as the Constitution requires, then in negotiating that horrible deal with Bob Corker that would let the Senate effectively ratify the deal with just 34 votes, and now by ignoring Congress's authority in the text of the final agreement itself and moving quickly to get this passed in the Security Council before Congress has even considered it.

I don't know which is a bigger scandal: That Obama would take this course, or that the Republican leadership in Congress is letting him do it without exacting a political price.

Or is it:

(B) Over the weekend, Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders spoke at the left's Netroots Nation conference and were more or less driven off the stage by "Black Lives Matter" protestors. I know what you're thinking: Goose. Gander. Awesome.

But it's not awesome. O'Malley responded to the protestors by plaintively agreeing with them and saying, "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter." And for that, he was booed off the stage. He later apologized for having the temerity to say such an awful thing. The protestors gave Sanders the business, too. Which was even more insane, since Sanders has spent 50 years of his life working as part of the civil rights movement.

What's depressing here is that this moronic racial-identity politics isn't going to stay in the Democratic field. And even if it did, it makes it impossible for one half of the two-party system to be intellectually serious. Which will make our politics, as a whole, worse.

But wait, we haven't even talked about:

(C) The media's desperate quest to understand what could have possibly motivated Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez in his shooting rampage that killed four Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga. It's a mystery, right? Have a look at the cable news clips that the Washington Free Beacon put together; it's like watching O.J. insist he's going to search high and low to find the real killers.

Which is bad. But then there's:

(D) The media's treatment of the story about Planned Parenthood's top doc bragging about how the group profits from the sale of organs from babies it kills. Mollie Hemingway followed the media reaction which first tried to blackout the story and then, when that failed, started re-writing Planned Parenthood's damage-control press release.

As Hemingway notes in a follow-up piece, "The New York Times has run stories and essays on the Confederate flag 149 times since June 17 (and only 39 of those mention Roof), 41 of those in the first six days. That compares to three stories on Planned Parenthood during the same window, just 7 percent of what you'd expect if the New York Times considered those stories merely of equal importance."

Sigh. So it hasn't been the best week in the history of the Republic. But there has been one bright spot. We'll talk about it down below.

"I have a message I feel compelled to talk about," he (John Kasich) tells reporters when he's asked whether he'll run for president, "not just in terms of what we've been doing to balance the budget, but the larger message of how the Republican party can essentially lead the way in terms of saving our culture."

That's what he's talking about now, here in his living room in Westerville, this larger message beyond balanced budgets. So let's go to the audiotape:

"I think what's happening is, we're on a rampage to secularize American society. I think it's the uniqueness of America, if you look at de Tocqueville or if you look at Lincoln, or whether you look at Martin Luther King, all of their observations are that America can't be separated from its values. And de Tocqueville probably more than anybody.

"I think it's fair to say we're a unique country where the church and state are separate, and should be separate. But what's been happening over the course of the last thirty years _ maybe since Madalyn Murray O'Hair is that we have been attempting to secularize everything. You know, it's called synchronicity. It's to me a great term _ the Police sang about it, remember that song? It's about a balance, isn't it, about this unique relationship between certain things. There needs to be a synchronicity between the church and state in America. What's been happening is that the state has been encroaching, trying to secularize those areas where people need to have values based on their faith. We're out of balance. The state has so secularized society that it's paralyzed us."

_Andrew Ferguson, "It's His Party" on John Kasich's last presidential run from our June 16, 1997, issue.

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The lone bright spot last week was the release of Ryan Anderson's much-anticipated (by me, at least) book on Obergefell and the future of marriage. It's called Truth Overruled: The future of marriage and religious freedom and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Anderson has pulled of a great trick with Truth Overruled: He's written a book that should be of interest not just to proponents of traditional marriage, but to the people who have advocated for redefining marriage, too. That's because what he does is distill, in an even-handed and philosophical manner, exactly what the arguments are for traditional marriage and what the costs to society are likely to be from redefinition.

Truth Overruled is so pithy and lean that I could quote the entire thing back at you. But I want to focus on two of Anderson's larger points.

The first is that when it comes to marriage, you can either have the traditional standard, or no standards, for defining the institution.

Marriage is, as Anderson explains, a human institution which predates the state. Why did it form? In order to make men and women responsible to one another, and to maximize the outcomes for both the adults and any children which result from their union. As such, "Marriage is society's least-restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children."

The people who want to transform marriage to include same-sex relationships have, whether they know it or not, not just a practical goal, but a philosophical one, too: They want, as Anderson puts it, to turn marriage into "an instrument for gratifying the emotions of adults." (This is not, I think, a redefinition that most same-sex marriage proponents would object to.)

The problem is that when you shift the institution's purpose, you then change the institution. And this isn't the first time we've confronted this movement. Here's Anderson:

The same argument was made during the no-fault divorce debate. No-fault divorce was for the relatively small number of people suffering in unhappy marriages and would be irrelevant for everyone else. But the change in the law changed everyone's expectations of marital permanence. The breakdown of the marriage culture that followed made it possible in our generation to consider removing sexual complementarity from the legal definition of marriage. And that redefinition may lead to further redefinition.

In short: Once you move away from the original purpose and definition of marriage, you enter a world in which the institution is infinitely plastic. Which means that if you support same-sex marriage today, you need to be comfortable with whatever marriage will be defined as tomorrow. And there will be future redefinitions.

Furthermore, you need to be comfortable with the trade-offs you're making.

What people often fail to understand is that rights are in constant tension with one another. Expanding one set of "rights" and "freedoms" comes with a cost. Anderson sees four them, right off the top:

Law teaches. It shapes ideas, which shape what people do. A radical change in the law of marriage will have at least four harmful consequences that we can foresee. The needs and rights of children will be subordinated to the desires of adults. The marital norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence will be weakened. Unborn children will be put at even more risk than they already are. And religious liberty-Americans' "first freedom"-will be threatened.

It's this last threat-to religious freedom-which occupies a great deal of thought in Truth Overruled, because it is the most immediate consequence of the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision.

With marriage now redefined, we can expect to see the marginalization of those with traditional views and the erosion of religious liberty. The law and culture will seek to eradicate such views through economic, social, and legal pressure. With marriage redefined, believing what virtually every human society once believed about marriage will increasingly be deemed a malicious prejudice to be driven to the margins of culture.

And you can see this even with Anderson's book itself. Within hours of it going on sale, gay-marriage activists swarmed the site and deluged it with negative reviews. Most of the reviewers made no pretense of having read the book. And when the Daily Signal investigated the situation, they found that gay-marriage activists were coordinating not just to leave negative reviews on Amazon-and reviews which were frequently nasty and personally vindictive-but to down-vote any positive reviews from people who had actually purchased and read the book.

These are the tactics of the gay-marriage movement. They want not just a redefinition of marriage-which they've gotten, courtesy of a single justice on the Supreme Court-but the total extirpation from the public square of anyone who holds to the view of marriage which was unquestioned for thousands of years of human history.

And they will pursue this goal by any means necessary. Ryan Anderson's Truth Overruled is the first step toward pushing back against these Jacobins.



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